Health and Social Care Bill

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Mr. Denham: I beg to move amendment No. 215, in page 37, line 23, leave out first `and'

The amendment removes an extraneous ``and''. I assure the Committee that it is a purely technical amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made: No. 216, in page 37, line 47, at end insert

    `(i) any other description of persons which appears to the Scottish Ministers to be a description ofpersons whose profession is regulated by or under a provision of, or made under, NorthernIreland legislation and which the Scottish Ministers consider it appropriate to specify.'.—[Mr. Denham.]

Question proposed, That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.

Sir George Young: I have a short question: what on earth is the clause doing in the Bill? The clause amends the National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1978. Health matters have been devolved to the Scottish Parliament. As we shall discover when we reach clause 45, Scotland has enormous powers to do what it wants with health and social care without any reference to the United Kingdom Parliament. Despite that wide power to do what it wants, apparently it cannot vary the community of pharmaceutical services in Scotland without primary legislation in Westminster.

I have looked at the back of the Bill to see who is supporting the legislation. The Minister and the Secretary of State for Health are, as is the Secretary of State for Wales, but the name of the Secretary of State for Scotland does not appear. There are no Scottish Labour Members on the Committee to help us with this difficult clause and—goodness me—there are not many Committees considering Bills on which Scottish Members can now serve, as they do not apply to Scotland. The Bill applies to Scotland, but there are no Scottish Members serving on the Committee considering it.

The explanatory notes state that they

    ``have been prepared by the Department of Health, with assistance from the Wales Office''.

There is no mention of the Scotland Office. Has some terrible mistake been made?

Lorna Fitzsimons (Rochdale): Is it not true that the right hon. Gentleman is among those who have sometimes been caught saying that there are too many Scots in Parliament?

Sir George Young: The hon. Lady makes my point. There are a large number of Scottish Members of Parliament, whose presence is greatly appreciated. We would have welcomed one of them in the Committee today to help us through the clause.

How much power rests with Westminster on Scottish health? Will we find that primary legislation in Westminster is required when other relatively minor changes need to be made to the health service? Did the draftsman made the mistake of not devolving the powers to Scotland in the Scotland Act 1998, and does the clause put that right? Will we come across a host of other anomalies in the months ahead?

Mr. Denham: I can reassure the Committee that the parliamentary procedure surrounding devolution is so superbly designed that it allows the convenience of the measure being adopted in this way. The Scottish Parliament could adopt the measure but, under the Sewell convention, parliamentary procedures now allow it to agree that the Westminster Parliament can amend legislation that will apply to Scotland in this way. The Scottish Parliament has been through the necessary procedures under Sewell to allow that, so we are effectively responding to a request from the Scottish Parliament to amend its legislation.

Sir George Young: I do not understand why the Scottish Parliament has to consult Westminster and needs us to change primary legislation for such a relatively trivial matter when it has enormous discretion, as we shall discover when we reach the next part of the Bill.

Mr. Denham: As I understand it, it is simply more convenient for the Scottish Parliament to make use of Westminster's legislative powers in this way, as agreed under Sewell. It has happened in various pieces of legislation.

We were worried this morning that we would not have time to complete the scheduled business today, but we seem to have nearly an hour left. We can therefore expect a lengthy discussion on devolution matters to take us up to 5 o'clock.

Clause 44, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

4 pm

Mr. Swayne: On a point of order, Sir David. I wonder whether you could throw any light on the extraordinary exchange that took place in this Committee at 5.39 pm on 30 January 2001, when someone called Golf Whisky 1 said

    ``I think all this procedure is right—log's a bit confused and so am I'',

to which Tango Mike Bravo 2 replied,

    ``Unable to find a note on this''.—[Official Report, Standing Committee E, 30 January 2001; c. 265.]

The Chairman: I need notice of points of order, and that is a matter for Hansard.

Further consideration adjourned.—[Mr. Jamieson.]

        Adjourned accordingly at one minute past Four o'clock till Tuesday 6 February at half-past Ten o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Madel, Sir David (Chairman)
Bailey, Mr.
Bradshaw, Mr.
Brand Dr.
Burns, Mr.
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Denham, Mr.
Fitzsimons, Lorna
Foster, Mr. Michael Jabez
Hammond, Mr.
Hutton, Mr.
Jamieson, Mr.
Mountford, Kali
Naysmith, Dr.
Prosser, Mr.
Stewart, Mr. Ian
Swayne, Mr.
Young, Sir George

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